Brian at MGoBlog has a great breakdown of all of the prospective teams the Big Ten may look to add in the next couple of years, which ranges from the very awesome and yet unlikely (Texas) to the far more probable (Rutgers, Syracuse). Brian’s look takes into account the importance of academic continuity between the added school and the conference as it currently stands, and he comes up with a final list. His ultimate preference? Texas. Next best? Notre Dame. Pretty straightforward there. Also probably not going to happen, which he readily admits.
Barring those teams entering the conference, though, I think adding Rutgers or Syracuse would be a mistake. Not only does Rutgers football have all the territorial markings of “flash-in-the-pan,” Rutgers basketball has never been good, and they don’t really bring secondary or Olympic sports to the table, either. Syracuse’s basketball program is tempting, but their football program is bad enough to warrant serious caution. Not to mention aesthetics: do we really need another horrible blue-and-orange clad team in this conference?
No, I think the ultimate solution lies just south of IU, in Louisville. The Cardinals have big-money programs set up in both football and basketball, they’d let the conference spread its recruiting wings even further south, and it would add the Cardinal-crazy haven of Louisville, which just so happens to be of the 20 biggest cities in the country, believe it or not. (I know: I didn’t believe it either. It’s true.) With the exception of the Kentucky Derby, a once-a-year fixation, and a AAA baseball team, the Cardinals are Louisville’s professional sports teams. Plenty of money and attention — and a nice big market for that new network — lies just down I-65, if the Big Ten is willing to make the trip through Southern Indiana.
Sound too perfect to be true? It might be: the one problem Brian cites is academics. Louisville’s medical research wing is up-and-coming, and, according to Wikipedia, the median ACT score for enrollment is up from 20.2 in 1995 to just around 24; not bad, but certainly nothing to write home about.
So I open it up to you, noted ITH readers: are Louisville’s academics poor enough to warrant their exclusion from the Big Ten? Are the academics even bad? If so, does the market and the geography outweigh those concerns? Who do you prefer for expansion? What did you get on your ACT? Thoughts in the comments.